Posted in Member Profile

C. Wayne Dawson

Genre: Historical Fiction

What kind of research goes into writing your novels and how much time does it take?

I use books, reliable online pieces, and scholarly articles. If I can’t find what I want in these sources, I’ll contact professors and even historical reenactors. Some information is so obscure that I reach out to foreigners on Facebook because they may know something  that only a native speaker in their country is familiar with.

One of the scenes in my book Curse of the Templar Seal recounts how the men aboard a Portuguese ship had to load and fire a swivel gun. I contacted a Portuguese reenactor who gave me details on how they would have handled that. It gave the novel authenticity.

If you could offer one piece of writing advice to a novice author, what would it be?

Be willing to take criticism, it’s the only way you can chisel and polish your writing into becoming something others will want to read. However, there are exceptions. For instance, listen to your gut when you know some of that criticism misunderstands what you’re trying to express, especially when it’s about your area of expertise.

Have you ever based characters on real people? Give us a couple of examples.

That’s almost a given when you’re writing historical fiction, as I do. For instance, when I write about the fall of the Crusader fortress in Acre, I include the name of the Templar Marshall, Peter de Sevrey, who played a leading role in defending the garrison.

I also portray Vasco da Gama, the first European to lead an expedition to India, and Pedro Cabral, who led the second. They were men who made critical decisions, some good, some bad, in opening up Asia to Europe. Sometimes I cringed when describing their cruelty and bloodthirstiness, but they played an important part in many scenes in Curse of the Templar Seal.

How do you find your ideas for a book?

Something historically unique will pique my interest. A story where men struggle against incredible odds yet succeed. For instance, when I was in graduate school, I had understood the Knights Templar had been decimated by two events. First, the Muslims massacred many of them in the Crusades. Later, the survivors were arrested by Philip IV of France and their leaders burned at the stake.

I later discovered the Portuguese king rescued the Templars by rebranding the organization into the Order of Christ. The revitalized order played a leading role in exploring the New World and opening up the route to Asia.

At the end of my novel, I show how only 100 Portuguese exact revenge against 60,000 allies of the Muslims. An incredible comeback.

What has helped/hindered you in deciding to begin the writing process?

One of the hardest things to overcome is the historian inside of me rebels against exaggerating or skipping over historical information that waters down the accuracy of the story. But sometimes, if you’re going to write a novel, you can’t express yourself as thoroughly as you would if you were writing an essay for a college course.

For instance, some historians state that Duarte Pacheco Pereira, an important figure in my novel, visited Brazil when it was discovered in 1500. Others with equal or more persuasive reasoning dispute it. I choose the ones who say it happened, then present the two sides in my historical notes. It made a better story!

Did your formal education or upbringing/background prepare you in any way to write?

Very much so. Studying history sharpened my interest in historical fiction and whetted my taste for research. I easily spend more time tracking down information than I do composing the story itself. But the more I read, the better the story becomes, especially when it’s built on a foundation of actual events!

Teaching history helped me appreciate that one must go beyond merely repeating facts and show the cause and effect behind them. It’s not enough to just state something happened, a good historian shows why it did. A good storyteller does the same thing: it’s not enough to state that Salieiri hated Mozart, he/she explains why there’s animosity between them. That is the story, right?

AWARDS: Finalist, East Texas Writers Guild Book Award, 2016


C. Wayne Dawson has written for The Williamson County Sun, History Magazine, Focus On Georgetown, The Georgetown Advocate, and SAFVIC Law Enforcement Newsletter.

He was an Adjunct Professor of History for ten years at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, where he taught American and World History.

In October of 2013, C. Wayne Dawson published Vienna’s Last Jihad, available today on Amazon. On March 22, 2016, his book The Darkness That Could Be Felt posted on Amazon. Finally, he released his third book, Caught Between Two Pagans, in early 2017, also available on Amazon.

In 2017, he founded The Georgetown Community Forum, a committee of three Democrats and three Republicans who held courteous, public discussions about different perspectives on political and social issues.


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